Wednesday, November 30, 2011

chicken with cranberry sauce and white bean mash

As a mom you really get to know what flies with your kids. Owen always tells me about how much he loves 'magic beans'. Yes, I'm sure his daycare is thankful for this love of 'magic beans'. He also loves chicken, so I found this recipe which incorporated his two faves in this Chicken with Cranberry Sauce with White Bean Mash from Everyday Food Great Food Fast.
I didn't expect much, but was so pleasantly surprised with this recipe. Chicken bone-in, skin-on isn't what most people choose to buy these days, but the flavour is so incredible! It made this dinner so luxurious, this entire dinner is at-home restaurant quality. We had it for a Monday night dinner but it really works better for a Friday or Saturday night to impress. We all LOVED it and I'd recommend it to anyone to try because not only is it simple and delicious, it's also very festive for this time of year.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

key lime pie

In celebration of my mother's birthday I made her this Key Lime Pie for her dessert. 
While in Florida I always indulge in Key Lime Pie, but I wanted to try and make it when I returned back to Canada. I returned home from Florida with a bag of key limes (native to where we vacationed). These limes are quite a bit smaller than the limes we find here in Canada. They are the size of ping pong balls, full of seeds and quite unyielding. 
Only because of my Hello Kitty electric citrus juicer was I able to deal with these limes. I used Bobby Flay's recipe from the Key Lime Pie episode of Throwdown. I'd say this is a very easy recipe once you manage the juice from the limes. It was so incredible, I honestly can't taste a difference between the delicious pies from Florida vs. this one.

We made it out to the HandMade Market's Christmas Craft Show. On Shop Small Business Saturday this worked perfectly into our weekend plan.
This was held again in the Good Earth Winery and Cooking School. 

I expected an outdoor market like previous shows, but given the time of year, it was good to see they kept everyone covered inside a tent. There were a great number of artisans and I had amazing Christmas shopping success here.
And Owen loved being here as long as he was outside of the tent. Being here really got us into the holiday spirit.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

party decor and details

Welcome and come in to see all the rest of Owen's second birthday party details.
Our inspiration for this party came from our repeated viewings of Yo Gabba Gabba. And as much as we tried to exercise restraint, Nuno and I are always brimming with ideas. So much so that we find it VERY difficult to know our limitations.
But we have fun doing things like this, so I'm sure it shows.
For Owen's birthday we had a party with all of his friends from my group of mom friends. This was a party separate from the family & close friends party to be held afterward. We offered food, games and activities geared towards 2 year olds. Parties with 2 years olds don't always need structure, but we did want everyone to have a memorable experience so we offered up a couple of games. 
The first game was a pin the unibrow on Broobee. Naturally, the kids weren't blind-folded. We asked the kids where they thought Brobee's eyebrows should go and had a bit of success with this game. Owen rocked it as if he'd been a ringer, but he saw it for the first time with all the other kids.
The other game we played was an animal dance card game which was a game that appeared on the episode 'Animals'. Nuno created the animal dance cards and the kids were to dance in the style of the animal shown on the card. We just played along with the segment on TV.
We printed of piles off colouring sheets with decorative frame borders printed on them. This was inspired by the Yo Gabba Gabba segments Mark Mothersbaugh hosts where his illustrations come to life.
The loot bags were modeled after each of the five characters from Yo Gabba Gabba. 
Inside the kids received a magic ball friend, Owen's second birthday magnet, Animal Dance Cards, President's Choice Banana Penguin Soft Cookie and Yo Gabba Gabba Stickers. 

The kids all wore Brobee Spikes which were head bands crafted with three trimmed red party hats on top.
Owen was just adorable on his birthday. He was quite the party animal running around and having fun with his cousin Ronan. He thanked everyone personally for their gifts and gave lots of big hugs.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

party eats

I had to devote a whole entry strictly to party food. For the family and friends party we had loads of appetizers, party trays of pizza and a chili buffet which is pretty standard party fare. But for the kid's party we wanted to serve snacks that could be eaten by both parents and toddlers alike. I wanted as much homemade and healthy food as possible for this part of the party but it really proves difficult to accomplish when you work full time. But we were happy with how it all turned out. Here's the spread mid-party:
It's pretty standard at kids parties to find kolbassa, crackers & cheese and fruit & veggie trays. I've bought prepared trays in the past, but made them myself this time around because I'm picky about which fruits and veggies work for toddlers. Along with trays we had:
Cucumber and Cream Cheese blended with Tzatziki Tea Sandwiches
Skipjack Tuna and Cream Cheese Pinwheels (my own rework on this recipe which appeared in the current What's Cooking by Kraft magazine for Holiday 2011)
Pitas with Hummus & Tzatziki
Corn Fritters with Ketchup 
Cinnamon & Sugar Crisps
And for desserts there were 2 different kinds of ice cream sandwiches I made these using Oreo and Chips Ahoy Thinsations. Oreo & Mint Chip Ice Cream and Chocolate Chip & Vanilla.
We created a mini cake for the kid's party. One of my absolute favourite cakes is this Cordon Rose Banana Cake from The Cake Bible. I think it's a cake perfectly suited for children so I made this cake with a chocolate butter cream filling with fondant. We decorated it like Muno with one eye and red Smarties for his bumps.
This year we decided to use menu item cards as part of the spread. We learned from Owen’s birthday last year when a mystery pocket containing shrimp slipped into the mouth of an allergic party goer. To alleviate any more food policing it was simple enough to print off our menu plan. It was helpful for our vegetarian guests. It also was a great visual aid for us as we worked through one item to the next preventing us from forgetting anything.

Monday, November 21, 2011

owen's second birthday cake

Owen's second birthday was a total blast. I'd like to share some party details. To start: Owen's birthday cake. 
The cake theme was Yo Gabba Gabba's Birthday episode. 
 In the episode, Brobee reminisces about his second birthday where he enjoyed a bowl of spaghetti. 
Thus, this was our inspiration for Owen's cake. 
Brobee was 4 layers of vanilla cake with vanilla butter cream filling. 
 The stump in Brobeeland is chocolate cake with chocolate butter cream filling. 
The bowl of spaghetti is fondant through an exturder. The meatballs are Tim Horton's chocolate Timbits. The volume in the bowl is trimmed cake from the Brobee and stump.
Owen wasn't quite sure how to blow out his candles, but he knows how to sing Happy Birthday. And most importantly he knew it was his celebration.
And he loved his cake. In true fashion Owen goes for the biggest piece first.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

tortilla and black bean pie

Last night we had the Tortilla and Black Bean Pie from Everyday Food Great Food Fast. We tried this one several years ago (at the peak of our Mexican food craze) and we didn't really like it. But I thought I'd give it another go with some revisions. First, I like pinto beans much more than black beans for Mexican and I also added lime and fresh cilantro to the mix. 
And those revisions didn't make a whole lot of difference to this meal. It's just not that great. I found it dry so I added a whole lot more salsa to every bite. For all the effort it is to make the filling, it's worth it to just add rice and make a bunch of burritos and freeze the leftovers.

Monday, November 14, 2011

owen is two today

Two years ago Owen arrived and enriched our lives in every possible way. I'm so in love and amazed by him daily. How he counts to ten and names every colour and shape, how he tells us how he's feeling with words, how he sings songs and loves to hear guitars, how he runs around carefree, how he draws and uses his imagination. He's funny, goofy, fearless, opinionated and loving. 
He's our beautiful boy and he's getting big.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

florida 2011

We're back from our family vacation to Florida. I'm still teetering on exhaustion and exhilaration from this trip. We are now gearing up for Owen's birthday so I'm a little too busy to give much of a recap at the moment, but hope to later this week. For now I'll share some highlights in photos.

Friday, November 11, 2011

lo mein with pork

Another recipe that looked great in this month's issue of Everyday Food was Lo Mein with Pork.
Like any stirfry type of meal, there is quite a lot of prep required even if the cooking time is quick. Grating 9 garlic cloves (yes, nine!) and a huge piece of ginger was time consuming enough, but what really gets me are the snow peas. I hate steming and deveining snow peas. This may sound just short of ordering take-out, but if pre-stemmed and deveined snow peas were sold in stores, I'd certainly PAY to have that task completed.
This was a nice dinner that tasted like a healthier version of take-out. I think chicken might taste even better than pork, so if we make it again I'd substitute. This dinner made so much we were still trying to finish it the next day. So Nuno had the genius idea of adding siracha sauce. This dish needs an element of heat behind it, so next time I might add some chili flakes during the garlic & ginger saute step.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

roasted sweet potato salsa

Again with the November Everyday Food issue. Everyday Food started a new column in this issue called Family Fuel which offers recipes for healthy family dishes. This recipe really matched my family because Owen is such a little avocado fiend, so I thought I'd give it a whirl.
Here it is and I'm still trying to figure out what to call it. I think the publication calls it a salsa and it really is like a winter salsa. There are roasted sweet potatoes with red onions (which I timed to bake and cool in the oven in the middle of the day so that step was complete when I got home). Then you add fresh tomato, cilantro, lime and avocado. So quick and easy. It was a bit of a stretch on my part thinking this was a dinner because we really should have at least doubled the recipe. We had this with a side of Paradise bread from the supermarket. I love it to bits and honestly can't wait for an excuse to make it again and try it all sorts of new ways (as a pizza topping, over couscous, over arugula as a salad).

Monday, November 7, 2011

creamy shiitake (crimini) alfredo

Do you ever have those days where nothing will do unless you're eating a plate full of creamy pasta? Well, I do and in desperation I made a dinner from, again, the November issue of Everyday Food magazine.
The recipe is for Creamy Shiitake Pasta but I really took a lot of liberties on this one. Instead of shiitakes I used crimini mushrooms (just as delicious, on sale last week and came pre-sliced). For the first time ever we didn't have fusilli in the house, but had 4 bags of penne, so Crimini Penne it was! Garlic, shallots, cream and white wine and only a few minutes until this delicious late Saturday night dinner was all but gone. It is so, so good!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

spicy enchiladas with pumpkin sauce

This Halloween has been fun in a whole new way. It's been a total blast enjoying Halloween right along with Owen we are all sad to see it come to a close. But I'm thinking after today it will be all too soon before I see another can of pumpkin puree. What is great about buying pumpkin puree is that the cans are so large that once one is open you can usually get two different recipes out of one single can. With the leftover pumpkin from the Pumpkin-Spice Muffins we decided to make the Spicy Enchiladas with Pumpkin Sauce from Everyday Food Great Food Fast.
This recipe indicates you should expect to get 8 enchiladas, but I only managed 4 - which was OK because we couldn't possibly have eaten more than one each. The white cheddar is a perfect compliment to the spicy pumpkin sauce. I found that this recipe was a little heavy-handed on the salt and we could probably get away with half the recommended amount. We rarely eat enchiladas, or any Mexican anymore, but since Owen's able to eat everything we eat, I think enchiladas are a great way to get him going on spicy food. Spicy Enchiladas with Pumpkin Sauce is a great recipe to make early in the morning and heat later in the day. Works perfect before trick-or-treating and we might have just started a new family tradition.
If you can manage to get the sugar saturated kids to bed, then this is the beer you want to relax with. This is Southern Tier's Pumking ale and it's, hands down, the best beer I've ever tasted. There are a lot of Autumnal brews out there, most of which are good, but this one is great! Southern Tier is my favourite brewery. I wish they were closer to take a tour again, but they are practically near the Pennsylvania border, so the next best think is to pick up growlers at Consumer's Beverage.